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Nurturing Friendships

Can you stop in your busy schedule for just a minute because I want to ask you a question: Who is your best friend, and when was the last time you just called that person to say I’m glad you’re in my life? It wouldn’t be as rich or as fulfilling or as joyful without you. No matter what your age or mine, it’s important to acknowledge people who are dear to us.

Family is always important, and one of the delightful things about my family is that they can’t get rid of me. I remind my sister of that fact often. Well, I suppose they could, but I would rather they did not. I am reminded of the great value not only of family but equally important, the value of friends.

While friends can slip away, the very best ones do not. They remain with us through the years and often through the difficult times of our lives, sometimes protecting us in real and emotional dangers that we are sometimes called to endure. Being a friend is not easy because it requires a degree of attention. Like other relationships, friends must be nurtured, treasured and are often made at an early age. While I know hundreds of people and have many casual friends, I have very few really close friends. A couple have withstood the test of time. What about you? Lots of friends or just a few?

Looking to the Bible for direction, I found: “Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.” (Sirach 6:6) Being a friend requires acceptance of who you are right now, not who you will become after that person can mold you and change you sufficiently so that you look more like him/her. That is definitely not a friend. That would be a parent’s role, and parents should not be their children’s friends when they’re small. “If we all live long enough I might someday be your friend, but now I am your mother, not your friend,” I told my daughter.

A friend, I believe, is someone who really knows you and loves you anyway. Sirach believes much the same thing, and says: “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his (her) worth.” (6:14-15)

Friends find each other no matter how many years pass and how often they talk. The older I get, the more important some friends become whether something triggers a memory or one day reminds me of another memory. Friends are especially important at times of great stress in life. I attended a good friend’s father’s funeral last week. It was, actually a wonderful celebration of the father’s life with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren attending. And while my friend mourned her father’s passing, she made sure another friend and I knew she appreciated our presence. I find that between attending weddings and funerals, the funerals become more and more important as the years pass.
Friends can make the difference in whether someone feels loved, needed, important — you fill in the blank — and I would call a few of them today to let them know.

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